The importance of multilingualism
Language competences are at the heart of building the European Education Area. They are indispensable for mobility, cooperation and mutual understanding across borders.
The co-existence of many languages in Europe is a powerful symbol of the European Union's (EU) aspiration to be united in diversity, one of the cornerstones of the European project. Languages define personal identities, but are also part of a shared inheritance.
The EU has promoted language learning across Europe for a long time. The arguments supporting ambitious education policies with regard to language learning are plentiful
- for individuals, learning languages creates personal and professional opportunities
- for society, it fosters cultural awareness, mutual understanding and social cohesion
- for companies, workers with language and intercultural competences are a vital resource, helping businesses to succeed and grow in global markets
EU actions promoting multilingualism
The Erasmus+ programme
Through the Erasmus+ programme, the EU offers many opportunities for people to improve their language skills by participating in education, training, youth and sport activities in another European country.
The programme boosts language learning from an early age by enabling pupils, groups of pupils and classes in schools and vocational education and training institutions to study at a host school or take part in a traineeship in another European country.
The 2021-2027 Erasmus+ programme has an estimated budget of €26.2 billion - nearly double that of the previous programme period.
The LISTIAC project
The EU supported the LISTIAC project (Linguistically Sensitive Teaching in All Classrooms) from 2019 to 2022 by providing funding through the Erasmus+ programme.
The project developed and tested a theoretically informed reflection tool which aims to make (future) teachers more linguistically sensitive in their beliefs, attitudes and actions.
The MultiMind project
MultiMind is a research and training platform that seeks fundamental breakthroughs in multilingualism research by adopting a multi-disciplinary approach. The project received funding from the EU’s Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions (MSCA) programme.
Evidence-based policymaking and peer learning
The Commission organises various activities with policy experts and stakeholders, including panel discussions, seminars and online events, and commissions research to encourage peer learning among Member States and evidence-based policymaking at all levels.
Each year, the Commission publishes the Education and Training Monitor. The Monitor gathers a wide range of evidence to show the evolution of EU Member States’ education and training systems.
The Commission also works with Eurostat and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to collect and analyse data on language teaching and learning across Europe.
Cooperation with international organisations
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
The Commission has been cooperating with the OECD since 2018 on the development of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Foreign Language Assessment (FLA) module.
PISA measures 15-year-olds’ ability to use their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges, including study and work in a globalised world.
Find out more about the PISA Foreign Language Assessment
Council of Europe
The Commission also cooperates with the Council of Europe and its European Centre of Modern Languages.
This cooperation focuses on promoting innovation in language teaching through two paths
- support for multilingual classrooms to help young migrants integrate and excel at school
- the Relating language curricula, tests and examinations to the Common European Framework of Reference (RELANG) initiative focuses on assisting educational authorities in relating language examinations to the proficiency levels defined in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)